The comments by Security Council official Dmitry Medvedev come amid reports of an imminent counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces in the besieged city of Bakhmut.
Russian troops may have to advance as far as Kiev or Lviv in Ukraine, Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev says amid reports that Moscow is losing strength in the war-torn city of Bakhmut.
Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has issued a barrage of strongly worded statements in the past, wringing the necks of the United States and its NATO allies for what he described as their attempts to tear Russia apart and to destroy.
“Nothing can be ruled out here. If you have to go to Kiev, then you have to go to Kiev, if you have to go to Lviv, then you have to go to Lviv to destroy this infection,” the Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Medvedev as saying on Friday.
Medvedev condemned as legally null and void the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin on charges of alleged involvement in the abduction of thousands of children from Ukraine.
He noted that the move added “colossal negative potential” in already bitterly strained ties between Russia and the West, and an arrest would amount to a declaration of war on Moscow.
Mild and mild-mannered, Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012, when Putin was forced to take the post of prime minister due to his term expiring, was widely seen by Western officials as more liberal than his mentor.
Since Putin sent troops to Ukraine more than a year ago, Medvedev has emerged as one of Russia’s most aggressive officials.
Fighting in Bakhmut
The Ukrainian military said early Friday that 1,020 Russian troops had been killed in the past 24 hours when they launched failed attacks on the towns of Lyman, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarske.
But their main focus was still the mining town of Bakhmut.
“The enemy has not stopped its attack on Bakhmut,” Ukraine’s General Staff said in a report.
Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said his forces would soon launch a counter-offensive after resisting Russia’s winter campaign.
The Russian Wagner mercenaries, who have been at the forefront of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, are “losing considerable strength and becoming exhausted,” he said.
“Soon we will take this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kiev, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” said Syrskyi, who listed Ukrainian counter-offensives last year in which areas of land were recaptured.
There was no immediate response from Moscow to suggestions that forces in Bakhmut were losing strength, but Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has issued statements in recent days warning of a Ukrainian counter-attack.
Russian troops have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months as they try to extend their control over eastern Ukraine in Europe’s deadliest infantry battle since World War II.
Ukrainian troops have stopped them, as they did again in Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarske, among 80 Russian attacks that Ukrainian defenders have repelled over the past day, the army said.